California Judge Rules Against Academic Freedom
by Christine Dao *
In another restriction of academic freedom, a federal judge has allowed the University of California (UC) to continue denying course credit for college preparatory classes to applicants from Christian high schools which use textbooks that reject evolution and declare the Bible to be infallible.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles rejected claims of religious discrimination and the suppression of free expression. The Chronicle stated that Otero’s ruling “focused on specific courses and texts” and “found no anti-religious bias in the university’s system of reviewing high school classes.”1
In a scene eerily reminiscent of other recent academic freedom cases, Otero said that UC rejects the textbooks “not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.”
Although not explicitly stated in the Chronicle report, the key “omitted topics” are those that uphold the supremacy of evolutionary theory in all areas of science and history. By denying the validity of alternate theories and perspectives, Judge Otero has essentially declared that atheistic naturalism is the only belief system recognized by the courts in the teaching of American students. And “critical thinking” is inferred to mean “that which only involves variations of evolutionary theory.”
The court’s judgment has serious implications for non-evolution-based teaching systems. “It appears the UC is attempting to secularize private religious schools,” said Jennifer Month, an attorney from Advocates for Faith and Freedom.
A group of Christian schools has appealed Otero’s rulings to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
- Egelko, B. Judge says UC can deny religious course credit. San Francisco Chronicle. Posted on www.sfgate.com August 13, 2008, accessed August 13, 2008.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor.